ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly on Thursday with thin presence of members from both Treasury and Opposition benches only limited to the order of the day sans witnessing any point of order from both the sides. The House restricted to the legislative business including introduction of a bill ‘Pakistan Engineering Council Act, 1976’ and two call-attention notices after the question-hour.The main party leaders along with Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly were also not present in the House.Responding to the call-attention notice regarding non-release of funds by government to HEC for the last two quarter resulting in problems for 14,000 students, Minister for Technical & Professional Training Shaikh Waqas Akram from PML-Q informed the House that Finance Division had released Rs 28.9 billion to the HEC against its actual allocation of Rs 26.9 billion for year 2011-12.“Who would not be in favour to further flourish institution like HEC,” he said, adding they would support tooth and nail for the progress of HEC. He, however, admitted the fact that the issue of non-release of funds emerged because of setting wrong priorities by management of HEC. He was of the view that funds should be released to students on priority basis. Sharing the figures with the facts, he said that the HEC had been released Rs 9.76 billion for development but it was used on building of new campuses.Sheikh Waqas further said that the donor had released $51 million to the organisation but withheld some money because they were not much satisfied with the performance.To another call-attention notice regarding down fall of machine tool factory raised by MQM legislators, State Minister for Production Khawaja Shiraz clearly told the House that Machine Tool Factory was on verge of total collapse. Responding to back to back question about the performance of incumbent government on this issue, Khawaja Sheraz from Taunsa Sharif said that Rs 2 billion more are needed for the running of Tool Factory. Although this factory has orders, he said, yet the situation is not satisfactory after putting it into privatisation list.To a question, he said that they would request to exclude this name of the factory from the list of privatisation. He further said that funds had been released to overcome situation as in past the even electricity connection of factory was cut off.Raising a concern in his question MNA Abdul Waseem remarked that that was it not a shameful as government member is hinting about collapse of factory.In response to him, young Minister rushed to say that there should be a clear decision either to privitize it properly or provide smooth funding to run factory. “It may not able to stand on its feet,” he assumed.Minister said that Pakistan Railways, PIA, Steel Mills and other organisations are demanding bail out packages, as solution could be found by some other way to see this matter. Earlier, with the start of the proceeding, Deputy speaker announced to expunge remarks uttered by PML-N legislator Capt(Retd) Safdar against the ANP leadership. The ANP MNAs were asking the chair to expunge remarks of Capt(Retd) Safdar for last two days.During question hour session, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Planning and Development Dr.Hafeez Sheikh in a written reply said that FBR collected net sales tax of Rs 630,997 million during the last financial year (2010-11). Sharing the measures to upsurge the collection of sales tax, he said the rate of sales tax was enhanced from 16 per cent to 17 per cent resulting in revenue gain of Rs 30 billion.The exemption regime was rationalised and sales tax exemptions were withdrawn from fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural tractors leading to additional inflow of Rs 11 billion, he said stating about steps in this regard.He further said that reduced rate of sales tax at four per cent and six per cent (now 5 per cent) were levied on local supplies of five zero-rated sector (Textile Carpets, surgical goods, Leather and Sports) resulting in reduction of refunds in these sectors.A bill to amend the Pakistan engineering Council Act, 1976 was also introduced in the House. According to the statement of object and reasons the President’s Secretariat (Public) through Prime Minister’s Secretariat (Public) directed that Engineer-in-Chief (Pakistan Army) maybe included as a member of the governing body of Pakistan Engineering Council.The Pakistan Engineering has agreed to insert the nomination of Engineer-in-Chief Pakistan Army, in the governing body. The proposed bill will provide legal cover to insertion of the Engineering-in-Chief (Pak Army) in the governing body of Pakistan Engineering Council.